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4 Common Questions About Bipolar Disorder



Bipolar disorders cause suffer to erratically swing between moods. Individuals with this disorder can quickly go from depression to mania. There are three different forms of bipolar disorder:

  • Type I refers to individuals who have suffered one or more manic episodes
  • Type II refers to individuals with severe mood swings who haven’t suffered a manic episode
  • Cyclothymia refers to individuals with minor swings between hypomania and mild depression

What Causes Bipolar Disorder?

One of the many frustrating aspects of this condition is there’s generally not a clearly defined cause of depressive or manic episodes. However, common triggers of manic episodes include using drugs, not sleeping, prescription medication use (especially steroids and antidepressants), and huge life shifts like giving birth to a child.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

Because bipolar disorder involves depressed and manic phases, it has two sets of signs and symptoms. Both phases can last for just a few days, or for several months at a time. During a phase of depression, someone may stop engaging in activities they used to like. They may alternate between sleeping too much or not at all. It’s common to frequently think about death and suicide. Someone in this phase may feel lowered self-esteem and have trouble finding enjoyment in what they do. It’s not uncommon to lack energy, as well as lose or gain a noticeable amount of weight due to issues with eating.

When someone is experiencing a manic phase, their emotions become very intense. This can mean feeling extremely upset, becoming overly involved in different activities, having too much energy, constantly talking, and overestimating their own abilities. Someone may spend more than they can afford, binge eats, have sex with multiple partners, or drink to excess. Most people in this situation have trouble controlling their temper and judgment.

How is Bipolar Disorder Diagnosed?

A doctor will start by looking through the medical and mental health history of the patient’s family. They will then find out more about the patient’s specific mood swings, including how long the swings and phases last. At some point, the doctor is likely to run multiple tests to check drug levels in the patient, as well as find out if they have any thyroid problems. The doctor may also observe the patient’s behavior for an extended period of time.

How Can Bipolar Disorder Be Treated?

The treatment of bipolar disorder has several goals. They include lessening the severity of episodes, preventing the patient from harming themselves, and making it possible for the patient to function on a daily basis. In addition to some form of therapy, most doctors choose to prescribe their patients with medication. Abilify is the most common choice. This medication, which is also known by the generic name of aripiprazole, has been approved for use in both children over the age of ten and adults suffering from bipolar disorder.